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Critic's choice

Review: Camera-free photography with beauty and bite by Marco Breuer

By Leah Ollman

9:30 AM PDT, May 17, 2013

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Marco Breuer practices photography in a sculptural, performative sense, redefining the medium as physical and primal through embossing, scratching and scraping, burning, scoring and sanding.

Diane Rosenstein included the New York-based artist in the gallery's inaugural group show earlier this year, and follows up now with a stunning career survey of nearly 50 works from the mid-'90s to the present.

Breuer uses many of the raw ingredients of conventional photography (light-sensitive paper, time, light itself), but typically bypasses others, such as cameras, lens and negatives. What he creates are unique residual marks on paper, rather than replicable recorded images, lines and patterns yielded from concrete, chance-inflected actions.

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One dark sheet (of silver gelatin paper) is bisected vertically by a slightly curved spine, the scorched trail of a burned fuse. In another piece, from 2012, a sheet of chromogenic paper has been heated to a dark and glossy crisp disk, raw-edged, perforated, puckered.

Other images, sanded, conjure a luscious conceptual premise: the photographically generated image as a sedimentary record, rubbed down to reveal prior temporal layers.

Extending to photography the legacy of Lucio Fontana (and the international cadre recently gathered in MOCA's epic "Destroy the Picture" exhibition), Breuer disrupts the continuity and the referentiality of the image plane. He asserts, in the most exciting and expansive ways, the objecthood and materiality of the photograph. His enterprise is defiant and liberating. His work abounds in both beauty and bite.

Diane Rosenstein Fine Art, 831 N. Highland Ave., (323) 397-9225, through June 8. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.dianerosenstein.com

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